The hidden river which mysteriously runs through a London Underground station – My London



The London Underground is used by 1.35 billion people every year.

You wonder, however, how many of those know about the hidden river which runs through one of the capital’s Tube stations.

Our guess is probably not that many.

It’s a story which takes us back to the 1860s when work was well underway to build the highly anticipated Tube network in the capital.

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The engineers responsible for constructing Sloane Square Tube station in Belgravia faced a big problem – the station stood in the path of the River Westbourne.

The river rises in Hampstead and flows through Kilburn, Paddington, Hyde Park and Chelsea, before joining the River Thames at Chelsea Bridge,

It wasn’t practical to build the Sloane Square on top of the river, and it soon became clear that the only solution was for the river to run through the station.

The water was directed into pipes ahead of the station’s opening in 1868 and could not be missed by the thousands of commuters making their daily journeys.

The unrecognisable Sloane Square Tube station after it was bombed during WW2 (Image: UGC)

Even to this day, commuters using Sloane Square station are still able to see the aqueduct above the tracks which carries the River Westbourne through the station.

The pipe, which is now hidden, is the original one from the 19th century and miraculously survived when the station was bombed by Germans during the Blitz in 1940.

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According to Iain Spragg’s book, London Underground’s Strangest Tales, the bombing claimed the lives of 37 passengers and injured 79 others who were on a train in the station. The ticket hall, escalators and roof was destroyed but the iron pipe which carries the River Westbourne was unscathed.

So, there we have it.

Next time you’re travelling through Sloane Square, look out for the hidden river which has run through the station for more than 150 years.

London Underground’s Strangest Tales by Iain Spragg can be purchased here.

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